The Cattle Class Saga
Ok so it’s not really a saga and I really have no room to complain because I do get to travel but honestly, I hate coach. More to the point, I hate being cooped up in what feels to be a shrinking space for hours on end. I feel like (and this is complete speculation as I think I have flow in first class once or twice) first class wouldn’t be any better unless all of them had those fancy seats where you could lay down and get some semblance of comfortable.
I am somewhere in the air over the continental US…. Somewhere between Texas and Hawaii. This flight doesn’t have that flight path monitor some do so I have no clue where we are. I think we have 4 more hours to Honolulu and despite sleeping the first two hours as best I could, I now find myself wide awake and cramped as hell. The flight isn’t a full one and I kicked my friend to the other isle so we both could have more room but the people in front of me are leaning back so I can’t actually use the table to put my laptop on and there is the metal of the seat belt grinding into my hip bone.
This post isn’t really about how much flying coach such but is really more about what I’ve learned from 10 years of transatlantic and now pacific flights and how to get as comfortable as possible in as little room as possible. Granted my tips won’t work for everyone and I can pretty much guarantee that if you are over 5’8” and not flexible NONE of my tips will help you.
A lot of how I chose to travel is based on past experiences and now preferences. For instance, when possible I chose the window seat. Not really because I plan on staring out the window the entire time but for two main reasons. The first reason, and most important, is it’s a place I can “lean” into. I feel like a complete asshat if I lean my seat back because I hate people doing it to me and therefore I feel I can’t do it to others. It takes away from the small bit of room we already have and it honestly doesn’t really make me any more comfortable. The head rests, while they fold, are too short of the sides and can’t cradle my giant head. So I get the window and wedge myself between the seat and window for the maximum amount of unconscious support (i.e. support of my head/body if I am able to sleep). The second reason I chose the window seat is more about self preservation. When I went of my trip to Europe at 18, on one of the legs of the flight back, I had the isle seat. And because I was exhausted and either hungover or still drunk, I let EVERYONE get off the plane before me, including the guy that had the window seat next to me. I got up, let him out and sat back down while everyone was rushing to get off. He had a bag in the overhead and when he took it out, not paying attention I guess, let the bag drop onto my head. Drunk, hungover and concussed is not a fun feeling so I avoid the isle at all cost (well except for actually paying for a non-isle seat…).
A lot of airlines are give passengers blankets/pillows for long haul flights which I think is great. I have one of those “U” shaped pillows but to be honest, it is only really useful if I put it under my chin to hold my head up. So with the pillows and blankets provided (and extras if the flight isn’t full), plus my own pillow I pad the seat, and the window and make myself a little comfy fort. Again, this is MUCH easier to do when you can kick you friend or the person next to you to another seat but I’ve still managed most of the time.
Being somewhat hyper active (when I’m not being a complete sloth), sitting still is an issue. My butt gets sore. My legs get all tingly. It’s not fun. I’m usually up every 5 minutes or so at work or home. I suppose I could walk around the plane like old folks walk around shopping malls but since I try to be as invisible as possible (not to mention NORMAL) on flights I don’t get up unless I have to. So to keep myself somewhat calm/not hyper, I usually bring some benedryl with me. I’m allergic to basically everything in the first place so benedryl is usually in my purse or backpack just in case. So on a flight I take one or two extra. If a plastic cup of wine or beer works for you, then do that. I’m just not much of a drinker.
My biggest tip is that unless you have your own private jet, can ALWAYS fly first class or can somehow magically beam yourself from one place to another, stop trying to be a celebrity and dress like a human. Every time I go somewhere on a trip, my mom tells me to wear something pretty because “I never know when I’ll meet the right guy”. To be fair my mom is almost 60, hasn’t been on a flight longer than 4 hours and is fairly convinced I will die alone…. I think I have “dressed up” on a flight maybe a handful of times. Two of those times only because I was traveling with my boss…. Today I am wearing cropped sweat pants, tennis shoes, a t-shirt and a hoodie. Sorry mom! I love you but I love being comfortable more. In my mind, since I curl up in a ball when possible to preserve space as mentioned, wearing a frilly dress and heels just isn’t practical. If I need to look nice when I arrive, then I’ll change. All of this stuff is comfortable, easy to strip off at security and then throw back on.
With that said, I guess I’ll attempt to send the next 4 hours sleeping….
(ps- wifi on planes is AWESOME!)